What to Do If You Worry You Won't Love Your Second Child As Much As Your First
When author Jenny Mollen was pregnant with her second son, Lazlo, she was convinced she wouldn't love this baby as much as her first, Sid. She quickly learned a mother's love is infinite.
Q: I’m pregnant with our second child, and I’m convinced I won’t love this baby as much as my first. Is this normal? If so, what’s the fix?
A: When I was pregnant with my second son, Lazlo, I had the same doubts as you, and I think it’s a perfectly natural way to feel. I even felt like that when I was pregnant with my first son, Sid. I prayed every night that I would love him as much as I did my dog, Teets.
Teets was the first love of my life. He walked me down my wedding aisle. Though I was eager to start a life with Jason, it was understood that there would be a part of me that belonged to someone else. Jason knew that if the three of us were flying over the Andes and the plane crashed, Teets and I would have to eat him for survival. There would be no hard feelings.
Once Sid arrived, though, nothing I’d had with Teets mattered. I tried to hide any obvious signs of favoritism, but it was no use. Sid was my son, and I would have eaten both Jason and Teets if they’d tried to come between us.
When I became pregnant the second time, a feeling of dread returned and washed over me. I’d seen how fairweather I was with my dog, dropping him so quickly. Sid and I had been bonding for three years. I’d sung to him, swaddled him, dedicated books to him, built Lego temples in his honor. This outsider inside me, this impostor second son, was going to try to diminish all that we had created. Days before my scheduled C-section, I was lying on Sid’s floor, and I wept. I wept because his life was about to be forever changed. I wept because I knew he wouldn’t be everything, but just be part of everything. I wept because I was going to have to multitask, and I’m bad at multitasking. This baby was going to ruin everything.
Laz arrived with barely a cry. Sounding more like a box of kittens than a baby, he was placed on my chest and the chemistry was as instant as it was frightening. It wasn’t until the meds wore off that I remembered I got to keep both children. We took Laz home a day early after nearly naming him Sid 2 because we couldn’t think of anything cuter.
At home, Sid still had the advantage. He could charm us with observations that left Laz in the dust. But as Laz started to be his own person, my feelings blossomed. He was different from his brother, more chill and potentially less neurotic. I was also a different mother, more self-assured.
Laz is now 1 year old, and I’ve come to understand how women have three or more children. A mother’s love is remarkable. There’s not a finite amount. Remember this: You are going to have enough love in you for your new baby that will have nothing to do with the love you have for the one who came before. The mistake is thinking that it’s the same love. In reality, they are separate relationships, equally important and all-consuming. I love Sid because he’s Sid and Laz because he’s Laz. I love Jason a little too. But he’s no Sid or Laz :)
This story originally appeared in Parents magazine as “Ask Jenny!”